Lately, Ralston residents who do their grocery shopping once a week may be used to walking into a different incarnation of their Applewood Hy-Vee each time they go to buy milk.
The most recent change was completed April 22 — a sit-down restaurant that is now open for business.
Next to the store’s front entrance, the Hy-Vee Market Cafe offers a range of options, from salads and appetizers to sandwiches, burgers and flatbreads. The Asian, Italian and kitchen areas just outside the dining area’s glass doors also offer a variety of choices, which can be brought inside the dining area. There is also a bar with wine, beer and various liquors.
Andrew Yochum, the Store Director for the chain’s location at 9707 Q St., said the addition of Asian food and sushi to the store has been a “big hit” so far.
In fact, the restaurant overall seems to be doing well.
“I’ve been very impressed with business in the last three days and with the compliments we’ve received so far,” he said. “I’m also impressed with the caliber of our wait staff. We hired a very good crew.”
The opening of the store’s restaurant area meant the addition of more than 35 staff members for the location, from bar staff and line cooks to hosts, waiters and managers.
One of the features Yochum is most excited about is a Sunday brunch. The first brunch was scheduled for April 27, and the brunches will take place each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yochum said the menu will include traditional breakfast items, a prime rib carving station, eggs benedict and omelets made to order and Bloody Marys and mimosas at the bar.
Applewood Hy-Vee is already a hotspot for Ralston residents, but Yochum said the addition of the brunches and the restaurant overall might change the store from a place where shoppers run into several familiar faces to a place people head to meet up.
“I think brunch here will become a destination for people,” Yochum said. “I think this restaurant is going to become a great local hangout.”
While Hy-Vee is open 24 hours a day, the restaurant area will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
As to the seemingly constant changes afoot at Hy-Vee, Yochum said the remodeling process is currently well ahead of schedule and he anticipates a reopening to come soon.
“We’ve cut out about two months so far,” he said. “We’re shooting for remodeling to be complete in September.”
Yochum said he sees the changes as a good thing for the store.
“If you’re not changing, you’re falling behind,” he said. “You have to keep up with the times and ahead of the curve. We like to set trends here.”
The Applewood location is indeed setting a trend for the area. The Applewood and Plattsmouth Hy-Vee locations are the only two Nebraska Hy-Vee stores to include a restaurant. Only 17 of the more than 230 Hy-Vee locations in the nation have a restaurant feature at present.
But the Midwestern chain is continuing to look at its new business model and bring the changes to other stores.
“There will definitely be more to come,” Yochum said.